By Dan Strumpf

Oil futures were little changed in Asian trade on Friday, amid quiet holiday trading and a wait-and-see mode ahead of next week's closely watched meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Light, sweet crude for January delivery fell four cents, or 0.1%, to $47.91 a barrel in the Globex electronic session of the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude lost 10 cents, or 0.2%, to $48.90 a barrel.

Oil trading has been quiet for much of this week and a holiday in the U.S. on Thursday meant fewer players in the market.

Expectations for a sizeable production cut by the cartel has been building. The group agreed in principle to cap output at 32.5 million to 33 million barrels a day at a meeting in September, but thespecifics are set to be ironed out next week.

Saudi Arabia is backing an effort to cap production at 32.5 million barrels, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal. The Saudi-backed proposal is the most concrete plan so far, but it has encountered misgivings from Iran and Iraq, two countries that have long been sticking points for the cartel. Iraq is in need of oil revenue to help fund its war against the Islamic State, while Iran is trying to ramp up its oil exports after years of punishing sanctions.

A large number of short positions, or bets on lower oil prices, mean prices could spike if OPEC delivers on a cut, said analysts at Energy Aspects.

"With managed money short positions across WTI and Brent at record highs, the market is setting itself up for a possibly sharp short covering rally--should OPEC deliver an output cut of around 1 million barrels a day," they said in a note to clients.

In refined productmarkets, Nymex reformulated gasoline blendstock for December--the benchmark gasoline contract--rose 59 points to $1.4276 a gallon, while December diesel traded at $1.5260, 91 points higher.

ICE gasoil for December changed hands at $444.75 a metric ton, up $0.50 from Thursday's settlement.

Benoit Faucon contributed to this article.

Write to Dan Strumpf at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 24, 2016 22:42 ET (03:42 GMT)

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